I showed up for work on my regular nightshift from 11-7am at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I was tired from life in general and it took all that I had to even get dressed up for work. I was running out of strength to keep wearing the mask that told everyone that I was “Fine”. I was having a real hard time keeping up with the charade. What kept me going was the need for a paycheck; that’s it. My single motivation in life was based around payday; not what I was doing for a career; not the difference I was making in my patients lives; not about feeling good about my job either. I had taken the night shift specifically so I didn’t have to deal with the crazy busy demanding times of day shifts. Nights, I could easily slip away and hide in a corner underneath that cloud of depression which followed me everywhere I went. I could easily disappear in the fog of my own doing and no one would really notice which suited me just fine. I was hurting deeply but didn’t realize to what extent until that fateful day.
I had asked God for a sign that there was something in my life that needed to happen. I got it that very day on my way to work…I was on the bus headed to work when I looked up and saw a giant white billboard with very few giant black letters written across it. It was a NIKE ad that simply said, “It’s Time To Change!” that’s it. It hit me hard because I knew that I had just received the answer to my plea to God earlier that day. I knew He had heard my cries of despair. I knew deep down that it was time to change my ways, but having the knowledge doesn’t mean you have the true understanding of it. Just because I had my answer, doesn’t also mean I was ready to change. Because of my intense stubbornness, I kept pushing on until I could push no more. That day came only a short week later when I arrived at work exhausted from life, but feeling the need to push on.
I stood off to the side of the nursing station and looked at my patient list but simply could not read a single word on the sheet. I looked at it, rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was as if it was written in Chinese for all I knew. The letters had transformed themselves into gibberish and I knew right then and there that I was done. Just done…There was no room left to pretend that everything was alright; no room to even say, “I’m fine”. My head was heavy and a fog was settling in and I knew there was only one thing I could do. Quit my job and go figure it out, so that’s exactly what I did! I went into the office, grabbed my jacket told them I quit and walked out without an explanation. I went straight down from the medical nursing unit I was supposed to work on, and started to run down to the Psychiatry Unit located 2 floors down. As I accepted the reality of what was happening, something interesting occurred. The valve that had been holding this broken human being together so strongly, suddenly burst and the dam came undone in a way even the biggest Geyser in Yellowstone National Park had never seen. I blew up and years of repressed pain came flooding to the surface and expelled itself like an exploding meteor would. In between the Medical Unit and the Psychiatry Unit, I completely came undone; and I mean completely! By the time I arrived to the locked unit, the crazed look in my eyes frightened the nurses because as I pounded on the doors with both fists, screaming at the top of my lungs, “Let me in… Let me in”, they were calling Security and saying, “Get her out! Get her out!”
It was a surreal sight to have 2 large Security Guards come pry a screaming, crying nurse in scrubs from the doors of the Psychiatry Unit. My hair was everywhere, I had snot running down my nose, makeup everywhere, hair everywhere and I was babbling deliriously about the hell I had been through in life. I couldn’t walk anymore as I had no strength to even move, so imagine them dragging me down the hall, a professional nurse in scrubs, screaming and crying the entire time…What a sight to behold indeed. They locked me up in the “Rubber Room” so I wouldn’t hurt myself while I awaited the Psychiatry DR. to come and assess me. I spent the entire time (quite a few hours) curled up in a ball underneath the cot, not moving – just waiting to be admitted to the Crazy Person Place.
By this time, I had accepted my fate that I would be admitted for 72 hours assessment, given some “happy pills” to calm me down, most likely labeled as “Bi-Polar, Schizophrenic, Multiple Personality Disorder….something at least to explain my past psychotic behaviour. A deep assessment is what I finally was ok in doing, positive they would find something terribly wrong with me. NOT! When I finally saw the DR. and told him EVERYTHING (for the first time in my life) he was very diligent in taking notes and not saying much; mind you it was coming out of me so fast that the poor guy could barely keep up to what I was saying. I had never told a single Soul prior to that moment all the trauma and abuse I had endured. When he was done taking notes, and I was done talking, he gives me a card with AADAC written on it. I look at him dumbfounded truly not understanding what he was saying. I asked him,” Aren’t you going to lock me up as crazy and give me some Happy Pills?” He laughs, pulls his glasses down over the tip of his nose, looks down at me in a Fatherly sort of way, and replies, “Oh no! My dear, there are no amount of pills that will fix you!” He shows me the sheet which had the very long list of notes, and says that I needed to quit drinking alcohol in order to go address these issues first. Anti-depressants wouldn’t work anyway because of the amount I was drinking almost every day. I was dumbfounded and speechless as he left me to fend for myself making my way home in yellow pj’s on the bus (they had confiscated my scrubs). Now I really looked like I was off my rocker taking the city bus in bright yellow pj’s, makeup everywhere, eyes swollen from crying, hair a complete disaster sticking up…..great…just great!
Needless to say, this action was the very beginning of my road to recovery; not only in the quitting of drinking, but finally learning about who Kathy really was. Mental Health is such an important issue that we as a Society tend to push aside not putting much value into it. We become so engrossed in life and distracted with a hundred different things on a daily basis, we overlook the most significant part of who we are. The foundation of our core beliefs is where it all starts and the ripple effect from there is like a roadmap to your life and the decisions you make in it.
Why do we have to push ourselves to the extreme all the time? Why is it so very hard to admit that maybe, just maybe, we need help? People are so afraid of being labeled as crazy, that they keep everything inside. My whole new venture in life is to raise awareness on this matter and hopefully help people look at themselves on the grand scheme of life, to assess themselves as to where they stand with their own mental health.
Stay tuned to the New Mental Health Diet Series coming this way…….